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Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studios Tour London- Great Hall, Hogwarts Gryffindor Sets and Props

The Attraction Tour (spoilers ahead)
Moving on with the studio tour, you are generally allowed entry 10 minutes before your allocated ticket time. Before getting to actual introductions, you be put through two sets of holding areas, namely a queue line area, allowing you to view the actual “under the stairs” set as used as Harry’s quarters in the first movie.

set from the 1st movie
pre-show movies
and welcome screening

Thereafter, the attraction begins with an introductory trailer played in a dark room showcasing teasers of how the whole Harry Potter series came about, as told through the eyes of the initial production team through several wall-mounted LCD screens. These rooms also act as crowd buffer areas before you enter into the attraction main theater. The main theater dishes out a cinema-style trailer which plunge you right into Harry Potter universe and beckoning visitors on the myriad of displays, attraction and magical experiences which awaits all in the attraction.

step right up!
let your journey begin!
the great hall

The show ends with the main screen opening up revealing two great wooden doors as the main entrances to the great hall itself. A guide will then lead you into the great hall set interior all decked with fancy blue lights, introducing visitors to the several exhibits within the hall itself. The hall was inspired by The Hall of Christ Church college, Oxford, which can still be visited today in the Oxford college itself for a fee. In the set, items such as the table fixtures and cutlery used in the dining scene of the first movie are all laid out as a “hot set” (a set in the ready sate where filming can be done any time). It was here on set too where the white Owls, with a combination of real and computer generated avians were released right here in this set, requiring much animal coordination on the set.

a hot set!
in Cambridge!

The Great hall set is decked with a variety of cool lighting, which gives the wow factor on entry, and slowly brightens up to a warm ambient lighting allowing visitors to better view the displays in the hall itself. These lights are reset every 15 minutes or so for the next group entrance of visitors to enter following their pre-show in the previous theater. The Studio Tour has also been honoured with awards for its lighting design, including the 2013 IES Illumination Award of Merit and 2013 Lighting Design Award for Lighting for Leisure.

The sides of the great hall are lined with a variety of mannequins showcasing the attire and colours of the various Hogwarts houses. Notably the great hall here does not have a high ceiling, or rather, one not high enough for the actual roof to be built. Thus it was added via computer generated imagery, together with the floating candle sticks as a finishing touch.

the great hall in glory
more hall shots!
Severus Snapes and Dumbledore!

The end of the great hall rests a row of costume set featuring key characters in the movie series, namely various deans and staff of Hogwarts. The mannequins are scaled to size, giving visitors an impression of the size difference between the various characters on-set.

Following the great hall exhibit, the studio’s walking tour will begin with an exit located at the far end of the hall. What lies ahead from here are largely static displays of various studio’s actual props and costumes as exhibits including a repository archive of small and large props used in the six movies. Despite Warner Bros. being the film company behind Harry Potter, the tour is not styled as a theme park, but rather a series of sequential exhibits which follows a planned route through a number of studios. The attraction was designed and produced by Burbank-based Thinkwell Group in close collaboration with Warner Bros. and the filmmakers.

moving to the exhibits
Model of the great hall
setting the props

The halls themselves are like your typical “aircraft hangar” type studios with high ceiling allowing various indoor sets to be built and filmed protected from the elements. These cavernous halls served as one of the main filming set for the films itself and home to several major sets. The actual Great Hall ceiling mock up and the Hogwarts main gate greets you upon entry to this first studio hall exhibition area. The array of exhibits here employs a combination of static signage and LCD active display boards elaborating the conceptualization and use of the various displays in the movie.

Much of the Harry Potter production was conceptualized with the baseline ideology to be as authentically British in every way. From the uniforms of the Hogwarts students, building architecture to even details into how Cheering-leading was even removed from Qudditch matches (as they were deemed to be too “American”).

With the Harry Potter film series complete now, a couple of these sound and film halls like these ones here were all transformed into permanent exhibition space to house the physical exhibits themselves to re-create one last time, the sets used in the film itself. Displays here in general comprise of major sets, props and costumes from the film series, including the previously mentioned Great Hall set as well as well-known scenes within Hogwarts itself, such as Dumbledore’s Office for instance. Several sets on display here are left in pristine film-ready condition (also known as hot sets) complete with impressive specular lighting.

Added via CG into the actual set prop
the great feast!

Not all the props here are of course as it seems in the movie. The food props here for instance, used in the Great Feast scene (a traditional start-of-term welcome feast on the first night at Hogwarts) does look a lot more appetizing on-film than it is on set. What we have here are your typical resin-casted food props and a creation of chocolate-heaven. Fans who remembered the scene of course won’t be seeing much of the full platter as shown the movie on display here, thanks much to computer generated food, particularly for the scenes where you get food magically appearing on diner’s empty plates.

For the human actors
the spaces on the exhibit floor
The scene preserved as in the first movie

One of the first sets on display will be the Hogwarts Boys’ Dormitory. Everything here from the beds to the dressers and suitcases are all kid-sized as set up in the scene. Fans will instantly be able to identify each bed to its occupant just by the personal belongings laid on-set. Otherwise, the distinctively labelled hand-written names on the suitcases will be a good giveaway.

Taking central stage in the first prop hall is a small fenced up caged area called the prop store. It houses a large number of small props seemingly spilling out of the small caged area. It is essentially a permanent storage area containing an assortment of small miscellaneous props and is largely hidden and inaccessible to visitors with only the props on the outer perimeter largely visible. The props are a combination of open-storage items as well as small items and trinkets stored in cupboards and glass cabinets. Die-hard fans here can have a go at identifying every single item to every movie as stored within this prop storage.

Central prop store
the circle of wands
"hot wands" on set

Notable items here will include the philosopher’s stone, the Hogwarts Qudditch cup as well as an assortment of actual Wizard Wands used by every character in the movies. Notable commentary here is a segment on wand craftsmanship, with the process of wand making shared from the craftman’s perspective in their quest to match the right wand, material and type to their intended actor personality, rather interesting back-story indeed.

and the accompanying snitch "egg"
spot the random snitch!

Littered throughout the attraction are several hidden snitches, presumably set loose from their Quidditch holding “egg” and flying all about throughout the attraction. This mini treasure hunt or sort is synonymous to the hidden mickeys in Walt Disney theme parks. Do have a go at spotting few of these tucked within few of the movie sets throughout the attraction. You do need a keen eye to find them all.

The Gryffindor Common Room is one of the nicely laid-out displays just like it was in the movie, complete with the weathered look on the furniture upholstery and carpet. Each house in Hogwarts has a lounge-like Common Room area. These rooms have shared feature fireplaces, sitting areas and decorated in house colours, giving the scene a uniquely old and antiqued look as seen in the movie.

The Gryffindor common room
digging the lighting
the (green screened) invisible cloak

On display too is the actual Invisible cloak used in by Daniel Radcliffe in the movies. Cloak of Invisibility is a magical artifact that would provide the wearer everlasting protection. In reality, the cloak is essentially a robe with a single-side green face which functions as a green screen to be digitally blanked out on the reverse-side on post-production computer enhancement.

more random musings
tick tock
The griffin stairwell

One of the few prominently larger displays here will be the Pendulous Clock Tower. Well, part of it mainly as depicted in the Clock Tower Entrance in the movie. The clock tower is one of the three main entrances of Hogwarts Castle, consisting of a large open space at the base of the Clock Tower with two stairwells going up towards the upper levels of the Tower itself. The actual part of the clock tower only being built is displayed here with the rest of it pretty much made up with computer generated imagery.

The Griffin Stairwell sculpture is on display too and as in the movie is the entrance to the Headmaster’s Tower. The Headmaster’s tower requires a password from anyone who wishes to gain entry to the room and is guarded by a large stone gargoyle. The Headmaster we all come to adore will of course be Albus Dumbledore.

» Next up, Dumbledore’s office, Snapes Potion Class, Hagrid Hut, Quidditch Green Screen and Ministry of Magic


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